Leveraging Faculty and Fulbright in Campus Internationalization: A Report by the American Council on Education (ACE)

What key challenges do American institutions of higher education face in internationalization? How can administrators and faculty work together to address these issues? “Internationalization in Action,” a series by the American Council on Education’s Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement, presents a selection of effective approaches to engaging faculty in the process of internationalization. While many think of the Fulbright Scholar Program as an individual opportunity, ACE’s article points out ways in which the program can be strategically employed by institutions to further internationalization goals, particularly when internal resources fall short.
“Internationalization in Action” suggests that university policies and procedures, both formal and informal, can either encourage or inhibit faculty’s ability to contribute to campus internationalization, and that faculty, as the drivers of the critical higher education activities of teaching and research, are fundamental components of any campus internationalization strategy.
ACE’s report begins with the preliminary hurdle of bringing in international faculty or those with international experience. It suggests that realigning hiring protocol and tenure or promotion policies to prioritize international experience, such as a Fulbright, can allay this issue.
When budget constraints limit an institution’s ability to draw international faculty, funded short term or long term visits may fill in the gap. ACE says, “While some institutions have the funding and staff needed to administer their own short-term visiting international faculty programs, for those that do not have such resources available, Fulbright and other national programs can be an excellent solution.” These opportunities include the Outreach Lecturing Fund and the Scholar-in-Residence Program.
Fulbright Flex Awards, a new initiative for the 2014-15 competition, and the Fulbright Specialist Program can give U.S. faculty the opportunity to make international connections when budgetary restrictions mean they aren’t able to leave campus for a full semester or year at a time.
Including faculty from abroad and those with an international concentration in reviewing Fulbright applications can increase institutional knowledge of Fulbright programs and should be considered a strategic way to utilize foreign faculty’s expertise. “Given the increasing focus on hiring in order to internationalize the faculty, institutions must also consider what happens to those international and internationally-focused faculty when they arrive on campus.  Rather than assuming that their presence alone will contribute to internationalization, making sure these faculty are given clear opportunities to share their expertise is important,” ACE advises.
Finally, ACE emphasizes the importance to sustainable internationalization efforts of building lasting international relationships. The piece highlights the work of Fulbright Ambassador John Allegrante, Deputy Provost of Teachers College at Columbia University, who stresses the value of the international connections Fulbright programs engender. Dr. Allegrante showcases long term Fulbright success stories at Teachers College during International Education Week, a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Department of Education. His own Fulbright experience in Iceland led to an exchange agreement between Teachers College and an Icelandic institution of higher education and to his tenure as a Fulbright Alumni Ambassador. Dr. Allegrante proposes that the Alumni Ambassador Program can be helpful in creating connections between U.S. institutions interested in internationalization as well as, “on-going communication with faculty as they consider participating and mounting their applications.” In the ACE report, Dr. Allegrante summarizes, “Fulbright is a cultural exchange mechanism around the world. It is academic as well but the main purpose is to create lasting bonds and partnerships with people from various countries and cultures.”